Ultrastructural study of West Nile virus pathogenesis in Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae)

Yvette A. Girard, Vsevolod Popov, Julie Wen, Violet Han, Stephen Higgs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The ultrastructural features of West Nile virus (WNV) replication and dissemination in orally infected Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus Say were analyzed over a 25-d infection period. To investigate the effects of virus replication on membrane induction, cellular organization, and cell viability in midgut and salivary gland tissues, midguts were dissected on days 3, 7, 14, and 21, and salivary glands were collected on days 7, 14, 21, and 25 postinfection (d.p.i.) for examination by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Whole mosquito heads were embedded for TEM analysis 14 d.p.i. to localize WNV particles and to investigate the effects of replication on nervous tissues of the brain. Membrane proliferation was induced by WNV in the midgut epithelium, midgut muscles, and salivary glands, although extensive endoplasmic reticulum swelling was a unique feature of salivary gland infection. TEM revealed WNV-induced pathology in salivary glands at 14, 21, and 25 d.p.i., and we hypothesize that long-term virus infection of this tissue results in severe cellular degeneration and apoptotic-like cell death. This finding indicates that the efficiency of WNV transmission may decrease with mosquito age postinfection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-444
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Apoptosis
  • Electron microscopy
  • Pathology
  • Salivary glands
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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